I am Chair of the Board of the Girls Power Initiative (GPI), a Nigerian non-governmental organisation that I co-founded in 1993 to pioneer sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights education for adolescent girls. Through education and training, GPI has encouraged hundreds of young women to stand up for their rights and to understand and choose the identity of “feminist”. GPI is committed to managing and educating girls into healthy self-reliant, productive and confident women for the achievement of positive changes and transformation of patriarchal values in Nigeria. In 2007 GPI received the World Association For Sexual Health International Award for Excellence in Innovation in Sexuality Education.
I work in Africa and internationally as a consultant and trainer on gender, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV and AIDS issues. Over the years I have been actively engaged in advocacy to ensure that my own government lives up to its commitments to protect health and human rights. I have been a member of national committees tasked with reviewing adolescent health policy and expanding HIV and AIDS education in Nigeria. I have also contributed to international women’s activism on development, linking our experiences as women in Nigeria and Africa more broadly to global struggles for women’s equality and against neo-liberalism. I served from 2004 to 2008 as the General Coordinator of Development Alternatives With Women for a New Era (DAWN), one of the oldest networks of feminist activists from the global South. As a member of the International Consortium for Medical Abortion and a board member of the organisation IPAS, I also add my energy to international efforts to prevent unnecessary deaths from unsafe abortions and promote women’s rights to choice and access to safe medical abortions. Alongside my work on policy and community mobilisation I also teach. I began my career in the sciences, and am a Professor in the Department of Botany, University of Calabar in Cross River State, Nigeria.
In our daily work as feminists we face male chauvinism arising from a fear of women sharing the same decision-making seats as men. We are bombarded by this excuse of “culture” which is rarely called upon except when it is used to enforce sexism, the suppression of female sexuality and the oppression of women. As feminists, we are working collectively to ensure that all African women and girls are able to live safe, healthy lives and to make informed and empowered choices about their own bodies.
I am an absolutely confirmed feminist, with no “ifs” or “buts”. I am a feminist by choice and conviction, passionate about total enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights, human freedoms and expression of one’s sexual identity without restriction but with information and services to do so in a healthy way. I am passionate about combating gender discrimination and insensitivity in whatever forms. I am a committed human rights defender and work in defence of victims of sexual abuse and all other forms of violence against women and girls